How can you get a standard CD-ROM to read DVD discs?
No kidding. With the write feature added on, that's where the extra $200 comes from.
Prices for DVD-Burners are down at freakin speeds on online shops. The lowest cost one I've saw costs 115 dollars. I'm hoping to get one next month.
Some DVD burners can also burn CD-R and RW as well so if you get one, you can take out whatever old CD-ROM or CD burner and put that in. Keep in mind there are several different DVD burner standards:

RAM is essenstially dead as I haven't seen them in stores at all and I hardly hear anyone talking about that.

Some DVD burner can read both +R/RW and -R/RW but they usually can only burn one format. So check the package or manual before you spend money on blank DVDs. They are like $2-$3 a blank.

I have HP DVD300i which works well for me.
i say the cost if worth it on blank dvds $3 is worth it to write like a couple gigs of data onto one dvd blank. I don't know what the write speed is on most of them though My pc has a hard time writing 12x speed for crying out loud how am i supposed to write a dvd faster than that. but for storage and backup purposes 1 dvd blank is more efficient i guess. especially for companies that have small hard drives or not much data to back up but enough that a couple dvd blanks would replace maybe 20 cds and save on storage for them, but then again you then run into the problem for companies are people going to work or watch dvds when no ones looking lol... not much to worry about there admins usually do these duties except in newer versions of windows when setting up a network structure you can set up backup operators that have the duties of backing up data, so i guess there is a little concern for companies but not much... what was the subject again?? i am so off track..
Check out this DVD Burner I've just ordered this morning.

EDIT: It just came in yesterday...this thing is fast. It can fill a whole 4.7 gig disk in 13 minutes.

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Looking at an auction on e-bay, I managed to gather the following information for a writable DVD drive that costed only $61.

2.4x DVD+RW rewrite
8x DVD-ROM/+RW read
12x CD-R write
10x CD-RW rewrite
32x CD-ROM/R/RW read

One question: if it says that it can write DVD-RW, does that mean it can also write DVD-R?
Yes it does. Whoever originally typed that forgotten to add DVD-R. There are no DVD-RW only drives.